AL faces nomination rifts, BNP faces cases, attacks in Gaibandha

Map of Gaibandha district
Prothom Alo illustration

The ruling Awami League has started preparations in Gaibandha ahead of the general elections. Although there is no overt rift over the district committee of the Awami League, there is conflict between the incumbent MP and local leaders over nomination. The committees of the associate bodies of the ruling party of the district have expired.

On the other hand, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is being run by an expired committee in the district. The leaders and activists of the party are holding programmes to press their one-point demand of resignation of the government ignoring police obstructions. They are cornered by the fear of lawsuits and arrests.

Meanwhile, the Jatiya Party (JaPa) president didn’t declare the committee despite holding a council Thursday in an attempt to resolve the dissent between local JaPa convenor and member secretary.

Rift over nomination in Awami League

A new committee of district Awami League was formed through a council with Abu Bakar Siddiqui as president and Mozammel Haque as general secretary. The full committee was declared some seven months after that. Although there is no problem with the committee, there is a rift between the local leaders and incumbent MPs over party nominations.

Whip of the parliament Mahabub Ara Begum is the MP from the Gaibandha-2 constituency. She has been elected the MP from this constituency for three consecutive times. However, there is a dissent between her and upazila parishad chairman and district Awami League’s organising secretary Shah Sarwar Kabir. Sarwar wants to be the party candidate this time.

Besides, district Awami League president and zila parishad chairman Abu Bakar Siddiqui, general secretary Mozammel Haque Mandal, vice-president Shah Masud Bin Jahangir Kabir and organising secretary Aminur Zaman are also in run for securing party nomination.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Shah Masud Jahangir Kabir said Mahbub Ara Begum worked for the rebel candidate despite being a ruling party MP during the municipality polls. As a result, the ruling party candidate lost the election. A section of the party is against her as she didn’t recognise dedicated party leaders and activists.

Prothom Alo couldn’t reach Mahbub Ara Begum for her comment. However, speaking to Prothom Alo, Sadar upazila AL general secretary Mridul Mustafiz, a follower of Mahbub Ara Begum, said those who left the side of the MP, have done this for their personal reasons.

There are two factions of Awami League in Gobindaganj upazila – one led by upazila committee president and upazila parishad chairman Abdul Latif Pradhan and the other is led by former MP Abul Kalam Azad. They will seek nomination from the party along with the existing MP from Gaibandha-4 constituency, Monwar Hossain Chowdhury.

Abdul Latif said, “Abul Kalam refrains from party activities. He holds programmes separately to exert his influence. However, Abul Kalam Azad claimed the locals and youth. He is only asking votes for boats in these programmes.

Ummey Kulsum, parliamentarian from Gaibandha-3 constituency that comprises Sadullapur and Palashbari upazilas, is the general secretary of the Bangladesh Krishak League’s central committee.

There are numerous complaints against her, for facilitating infiltration of BNP and Jamaat men into her party and harbouring rivalry with other ruling party leaders.

Shariar Khan, chairman of Sadullapur upazila parishad, alleged that Ummey Kulsum included a good number of BNP and Jamaat men to the Krishak League. Also, she has a feud with Palashbari upazila chairman AKM Moksed.

In this regard, Ummey Kulsum told Prothom Alo that the two chairmen of Sadullapur and Palashbari upazila parishads are running for nomination and she will campaign for the person the party high command choses.

In Gaibandha-1 constituency (Sundarganj), Afruja Bari, elder sister of late lawmaker Manjurul Islam and also president of upazila Awami League, and Khurshid Jahan, wife of the late lawmaker, have been in a rift over nomination from the party. Their feud reached the grassroots level.

In Gaibandha-5 constituency (Saghata and Fulchhari), current lawmaker Mahmud Hasan, former president of Bangladesh Chhatra League, is campaigning for a second term, while Farjana Rabbi, daughter of former deputy speaker Fajle Rabbi, is also aspiring for the Awami League nomination.

BNP cornered by cases, attacks

The Gaibandha district committee of BNP was formed in 2018, with Mainul Hasan and Mahmudun Nabi as president and general secretary respectively. Among the seven upazila and four municipality units, the BNP formed partial committees for the Palashbari and Fulchhari upazila units, as well as the Palashbari municipality unit around six months ago.

The remaining five upazila and three municipality units are operating through expired convener committees. The scenario is the same for other affiliated organisations of BNP, including Jubo Dal, Swechasebak Dal, Chhatra Dal, Sramik Dal, and Krishak Dal.

Mahmudun Nabi, general secretary of Gaibandha BNP, said the leaders and activists are passing a busy time due to frequent political programmes. Hence, they are taking time to hold the next council.

As per the instruction from the party high ups, the BNP leaders are now solely focused on dethroning the government, with no election plan. They are holding political programmes defying the police restrictions and passing days amid the fear of arrest.

Kazi Amirul Islam, vice president of Gaibandha BNP, said more than 300 cases have been filed against over 20,000 BNP men in the district since 2014. They cannot sleep in their houses due to the fear of arrest.

If the BNP joins the election, Mainul Hasan is likely to run for the Gaibandha-3 constituency, while Anisujjaman Khan, central village government affairs secretary of BNP, is expected to become the BNP candidate in Gaibandha-2, and Faruk Alam, vice president of district BNP, in Gaibandha-5.

JaPa seeks to reclaim constituencies

Jatiya Party formed the Gaibandha district unit committee in 2019, with former lawmaker Abdur Rashid as convener and Sarwar Hossain as member secretary.

After three years and nine months, Jatiya Party held a council in the district recently, with participation of its chairman GM Quader. However, there was no announcement regarding a new committee.

The upazila, municipality and union committees of Jatiya Party have also run out of date, except for the Sundarganj upazila.

Adding more to the woe, there is a rivalry between the district unit convener and member secretary, which left an adverse impact up to the grassroot level.

In conversation with Prothom Alo, Abdur Rashid Sarker said the central leaders instructed him to prepare a draft committee and send it to the central body for approval.

A source within the party said the council paved the way for settling the rivalry between the top two leaders of the district committee.

There was a time when all five constituencies in Gaibandha were occupied by the Jatiya Party. They won in a single constituency in each of the national elections in 2001 and 2008, and lost in all in 2014. Later, it managed to win an electorate in the last election.

The party is aimed at reclaiming all the five constituencies in the upcoming elections.